AMES — There is an old saying in football that goes something like this: “The quarterback gets too much credit when things are going well and receives too much blame when times get rough.”
Going into last Thursday night’s desperation game for Iowa State, sophomore Sam Richardson’s record as starting quarterback was 0-4. Was Richardson the sole reason for those losses? Absolutely not, and educated fans know that. But even so, heading into game three of 2013, Sam Richardson’s record as a starting quarterback was 0-4. That fact was undeniable and without question, weighing down the sophomore’s shoulders.
After a 38-21 defeat of Tulsa, Iowa State’s head coach Paul Rhoads told me this on Friday afternoon.
“Maybe the biggest confidence boost on the team will be Sam Richardson’s.”
Yes, after beating Tulsa, Richardson likely took a massive deep breath as he had gotten off of the schneid.
Now that Richardson doesn’t have to worry about the winless record as a starter anymore, let’s review what he’s been through since entering the depth chart at Iowa State.
— He lit up the Kansas Jayhawks in relief of a concussed Steele Jantz last November. But let’s be honest: Brent Blum could have lit up the Kansas Jayhawks in relief of a concussed Steele Jantz. Give credit where it is due though. Road game, first PT as a division one player, it didn’t matter. Richardson and his silky smooth demeanor got the job done.
— Game two, a frigid home debut vs. West Virginia in which Richardson completed only 13 of his 31 passes. The wind was swirling on that bitter cold day and a defense minus Jake Knott, Durrell Givens and Jansen Watson couldn’t keep the high-flying Mountaineers out of the endzone when it mattered most.
— Game three, the Liberty Bowl. Richardson was ailing with the flu. I have had the flu before. When I have the flu, I can’t change the channel on my remote, yet alone play quarterback in a bowl game. Richardson, along with the rest of his teammates, was subpar as Iowa State got beaten up on national television.
— Game four, UNI, 2013. Richardson actually played pretty well, completing 69 percent of his passes. But the outcome…Do we really need to go there? Next.
— Game five, Iowa. Dude was playing at what? Fifty percent? In fact, an argument can be made that he shouldn’t have even played in that one at all.
Do not get me wrong. The above are not excuses that I have made for Sam. When you sign up to play football at Iowa State, cold and windy November afternoons are part of the deal. So are injuries on defense and frustrating openers against those pesky Panthers.
But Rhoads is right. For all of the reasons listed above, his quarterback needed a confidence boost. Human nature tells us that. The sophomore needed to win a game as a starter. Richardson, whose career touchdown-to-interception ratio is 15-to-4, is finally getting healthy and more importantly, feeling good about himself and where his offense is heading.
That is a very good thing for an Iowa State team still looking to dig itself out of an early season hole. After all, if your quarterback isn’t confident, how good can your offense realistically be?
On Big 12 football…
*** Last week in Monday Musings, I blasted West Virginia after being embarrassed by Maryland in a 37-0 defeat. Today, I’m going to give Dana Holgerson more credit than I ever thought was possible. The dude did a masterful job of coaching over the weekend to not only get his team ready to play after being de-testicled, but beating who most people thought was the best team in the Big 12.
We all knew that this Big 12 season was going to be wacky but after watching that game, something tells me it’s going to be wackier than most of us thought.
In my mind, the worst team in the league just beat the best – in week one of conference play for both teams.
So why can’t Iowa State beat Texas again?
*** Oklahoma went on the road and handed Notre Dame a 35-21 loss on Saturday. Are you a believer in Blake Bell? Is he that good, or is Notre Dame simply overrated? My guess is the answer is probably somewhere in between. Even so, Oklahoma has to be the top team in this week’s Big 12 power rankings right? I’m putting them on upset watch this weekend because…
*** TCU forced five turnovers in a 48-17 win over SMU on Saturday. That is exactly why the Horned Frogs will be in every game that they play this season. Up next, a road trip to Oklahoma.
A few quick reminders…
— Our annual Cyclone Fanatic Iowa State Basketball Tip-Off Party will go down tomorrow night at the Keg Stand in West Des Moines. We’re planning on starting the program at around 6-6:30. If you’ve never been before, CLICK HERE to see what last year’s party was like. Should be a great time.
— Our Cyclone Fanatic/U.S. Cellular Radio Show from BenchWarmers in Ankeny will be on the air Wednesday this week because of the Thursday game. Tron Smith, Brent Blum and I will take the 1460 KXNO airways at 7 p.m. It is already booked that Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly will be our guest.
— Thursday’s Wilson Toyota/Cyclone Fanatic Pregame Show will be live on 1460 KXNO from 4-4:30. As always, Tron Smith and I will broadcast live from Jack Trice Stadium.